Car Accident Lawyer: How Do I Claim for Damage to My Car from a Pothole?
Figuring out who is liable for most car accidents isn't a mystery. If you are stopped at a stop sign, and the car behind you rear-ends you, then that driver is most likely liable for damage to your vehicle and for any injuries you suffer. But what if your vehicle is damaged (or you are injured) because of:
potholes, shoulder drop-off oil and chip construction zone icy or snowy roads, or wet roads.
Who is legally liable in those situations? In many cases, it is the government entity charged with maintaining the road where your accident took place. But there are also times when someone other than the government is responsible. In this article we'll help you determine who is responsible if your vehicle is damaged due to poor road conditions, and how to proceed with making a claim.
Government Responsibility To Maintain Roads
As mentioned above, the city, county, or state charged with maintaining the road where your accident occurred may be responsible for any damage caused by poor road conditions. The theory here is, because it is the government's job to maintain the roads, the government is also responsible for any damage that results when roads aren't kept reasonably safe. The key here is what is considered "reasonable." The government won't always be responsible simply because your vehicle was damages by the questionable condition of a road.
State laws typically allow the government a reasonable amount of time to discover poor road conditions and a reasonable amount of time to repair them. Governments generally discovery dangerous road conditions in one of two ways:
Also, the government will not likely be responsible for damage caused by a dangerous road condition if it has not had enough time to repair the condition. Bottom line: If you are going to make a successful claim against the government for damage to your vehicle caused by poor road conditions, you will have to prove two things:
the government knew about the poor road condition (or should reasonably have known about it), and the government did not repair the poor road condition within a reasonable amount of time. Making a Claim The first thing you will want to do is take down relevant information. Record the following:
the general location of the poor condition, i.e. what businesses/landmarks are nearby? the name of the road the direction you were traveling the exact location of the poor condition in the road the physical characteristics of the poor conditions, e.g. size and depth of a pothole the names and contact information of any witnesses If you think you may have a claim, you will need to find out which government body is responsible for maintaining the road in question. You can likely find out which government body is responsible by calling your local county commissioners' office. If they are not responsible, they can likely tell you who is.
Once you determine which government body is responsible, you will need to give the government body notice of your claim. You will probably need to do this quickly. Typically there is a limited amount of time to make such a claim. If too much time has passed, you may lose your right to make a claim. (Learn more about Injury Claims Against the Government.)